Title

Preserving the Race: Gendered Violence in the Early Conservation Movement

Presenter Information

Patience Collier

Document Type

Oral Presentation

Location

SURC 271

Start Date

21-5-2015

End Date

21-5-2015

Keywords

Conservation, Frontier, Gender

Abstract

This paper examines the ways in which the conservation movement was a response to racial and gender tensions in the late nineteenth century. In the wake of urbanization, immigration, and increasing racial diversity, there were broad cultural concerns about the decline of white masculinity as a result of the changing environment, as well as concern about the decline of femininity as the suffrage movement grew. The responding political and cultural environmental movement was split, but both sides considered strong gender roles necessary in order to encourage the health of the white race. The hyper-masculine part of the conservation movement was best represented by the rugged manliness philosophy of Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt equated manliness with violence, and supported the conservation of wilderness as a proving ground for white masculinity. On the other side of the movement were preservationists, who supported preserving the wilderness for its own sake. They were associated with more passive hobbies such as bird-watching, and were frequently feminized by the media, despite being led mainly by men. This gendered division had a powerful effect on the sociopolitical culture of environmentalism.

Faculty Mentor(s)

Brian Carroll

Department/Program

History

Additional Mentoring Department

History

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Preserving the Race: Gendered Violence in the Early Conservation Movement

SURC 271

This paper examines the ways in which the conservation movement was a response to racial and gender tensions in the late nineteenth century. In the wake of urbanization, immigration, and increasing racial diversity, there were broad cultural concerns about the decline of white masculinity as a result of the changing environment, as well as concern about the decline of femininity as the suffrage movement grew. The responding political and cultural environmental movement was split, but both sides considered strong gender roles necessary in order to encourage the health of the white race. The hyper-masculine part of the conservation movement was best represented by the rugged manliness philosophy of Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt equated manliness with violence, and supported the conservation of wilderness as a proving ground for white masculinity. On the other side of the movement were preservationists, who supported preserving the wilderness for its own sake. They were associated with more passive hobbies such as bird-watching, and were frequently feminized by the media, despite being led mainly by men. This gendered division had a powerful effect on the sociopolitical culture of environmentalism.